A Story, Part 4 – 257-0224

try finding a needle in this haystack...

Click here for Part 3

The following Thursday they bump into eachother once again. This time they feel more comfortable and don’t try to hide their smiles. He proposes that they meet outside of school. She’s happy and responds:

  • That’s a good idea. I have a cousin that launches his art exhibit this weekend.

  • I’d love to, but I can’t most weekends. I work in Morrocoy as a scuba diving guide.

  • Wow! scuba diving?

  • Yeah, it’s something I love to do and I eventually want to become an instructor. But tomorrow I have a friend’s birthday party and I’m sure you can come.

  • That would be nice

  • OK, I’ll pick you up at your place. Where is it?

  • Here’s my number, call me and I’ll give you directions

  • OK, see you tomorrow

  • See you

When she gets back home her mom sees that same look in her eyes.

  • did you see this boy?

  • yes mom, and he asked me out tomorrow!

  • wow! great! I’m so happy for you, but be careful…

  • easy mom, he’s a great guy and I’m not in a hurry

  • I know, but you seem to like him too much and I don’t want you to be hurt

  • don’t worry, I won’t

He’s having problems concentrating. All he can think of is that birthday party. He has already memorized her number: 257-0224. He wants to call her just to say hi, but refrains. He knows he has to make just one call to be with to her once again. No need to spoil it.

Come Friday they don’t see each other on campus. Sad, but exciting. They both head home their separate ways. She arrives home and asks if somebody has called. Her sister replies: “I wouldn’t know, the phone was disconnected today – we didn’t pay the bill on time”. “FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!” her sister is astonished: it’s the first time she’s heard her swear. Gabriela dashes to her room, locks herself in and cries for what seems to be the whole weekend on her pillow.

He reaches home and distracts himself watching TV in anticipation of tonight’s party. He doesn’t want to call too early. Around 8 pm he looks at the phone fora long time. He picks it and dials: 257-0224. He hears the strange tone reserved for those who dial a nonexistent number. “Oops! Typo”. He dials again:257-0224. Again the tone. He repeats the drill at least five more times, each one more compulsive than the last.

“FUCK! She gave me a wrong number. Was this deliberate? But why would she do such a thing? No way. She, too, wanted to go. There has to be another reason”. His resolve is unshaken. He won’t give up on finding Gabriela. Ideas begin to flow.

  • Did I give her my number? No: fuck!

  • Which friends know where she lives?

  • María Jesús: I don’t have her number. Fuck!

  • Wait a second, I talked about her last week to some mates and Juan Carlos seemed to know her well. But I don’t have his number. Fuck!

  • Eureka! Carlos Barea: he knows Juan Carlos.

It’s 9 pm. He’s otherwise ready to go, but needs to find her. He dials Carlos’ number:

  • Hi Carlos, it’s Igor

  • What’s up mate?

  • Listen, man, I need a favor. I was supposed to go out with this girl I told you about.

  • Gaby?

  • Yes, Gaby. I’m supposed to pick her up but don’t know where she lives and there seems to be a problem with her phone line. You know where she lives?

  • No, I don’t know her that much.

  • But Juan Carlos seemed to know her better. You think he can help?

  • You’re right: he does hang out with her crowd. Let me give you his number.

****

  • Hi Juan Carlos, it’s Igor

  • Hi dude, this is a surprise!

  • Yeah, sorry to disturb, but I think you can help me with a problem.

  • Shoot.

  • You remember this girl Gabriela I was talking about?

  • Yeah, Gaby

  • Well, I need to know where she lives. I’m supposed to pick her up for a party and her phone seems to be disconnected.

  • Why doesn’t she call you?

  • I didn’t give her my number

  • Yikes! That’s tough. I know she lives in Colinas de Los Ruices on an apartment building, but I wouldn’t know the details.

  • Man, is there anybody who can help? Do you have María Jesús’ number? They’re close.

  • I don’t have her number, but you just gave me some ideas. Let me find out. Call me back in half an hour.

That half an hour was very long. He dialed the same number: 257-0224 probably another 10 times.

  • Juan Carlos, any luck?

  • Dude, I tried. I contacted loads of people. But nobody could give me her precise address. I’m sorry.

  • But this can’t be, man, I have to see her tonight!

  • Sorry man. But chill. It’s not like she’s moving anywhere.

  • Sorry and thanks for the help.

As he leaves to the party, his mood is completely shattered. He doesn’t remember the drive to the party. All he remembers are those seven numbers:257-0224.

During the party he’s visibly upset. His friends notice and try to lift is mood. After some time they give up: he’s no fun to be around. He spends the rest of the party alone. Next to the phone. Dialing the number. He knows it’s useless, but he promised not to give up.

Written by Igor Markov

Igor is a free-spirit who left his home Caracas too long ago and (after bouncing around 4 continents) made Kampala his home (at least he's still trying). He has too many interests to name, but one unifying passion: people. He devotes a lot of his heart (if not his time) to the dream of creating kinship between Africans and Latinos through a group/page/channel called Gente Depinga.

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